Chapter 4-2
Hacker Crackdown

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In June 1989, Apple Computer, Inc., of Cupertino,
California, had a problem.  Someone had illicitly copied
a small piece of Apple's proprietary software, software
which controlled an internal chip driving the Macintosh
screen display.  This Color QuickDraw source code was
a closely guarded piece of Apple's intellectual property.
Only trusted Apple insiders were supposed to possess it.

But the "NuPrometheus League" wanted things otherwise.
This person (or persons) made several illicit copies
of this source code, perhaps as many as two dozen.
He (or she, or they) then put those illicit floppy disks
into envelopes and mailed them to people all over America:
people in the computer industry who were associated with,
but not directly employed by, Apple Computer.

The NuPrometheus caper was a complex, highly ideological,
and very hacker-like crime.  Prometheus, it will be recalled,
stole the fire of the Gods and gave this potent gift to the
general ranks of downtrodden mankind.  A similar god-in-the-manger
attitude was implied for the corporate elite of Apple Computer,
while the "Nu" Prometheus had himself cast in the role of rebel demigod.
The illicitly copied data was given away for free.

The new Prometheus, whoever he was, escaped the
fate of the ancient Greek Prometheus, who was chained
to a rock for centuries by the vengeful gods while an eagle
tore and ate his liver.  On the other hand, NuPrometheus
chickened out somewhat by comparison with his role model.
The small chunk of Color QuickDraw code he had filched
and replicated was more or less useless to Apple's
industrial rivals (or, in fact, to anyone else).
Instead of giving fire to mankind, it was more as if
NuPrometheus had photocopied the schematics for part of a Bic lighter.
The act was not a genuine work of industrial espionage.
It was best interpreted as a symbolic, deliberate slap
in the face for the Apple corporate heirarchy.

Apple's internal struggles were well-known in the industry.  Apple's founders,
Jobs and Wozniak, had both taken their leave long since.  Their raucous core
of senior employees had been a barnstorming crew of 1960s Californians,
many of them markedly less than happy with the new button-down multimillion
dollar regime at Apple.  Many of the programmers and developers who had
invented the Macintosh model in the early 1980s had also taken their leave of
the company.  It was they, not the current masters of Apple's corporate fate,
who had invented the stolen Color QuickDraw code.  The NuPrometheus stunt
was well-calculated to wound company morale.

Apple called the FBI.  The Bureau takes an interest in high-profile
intellectual-property theft cases, industrial espionage and theft
of trade secrets.  These were likely the right people to call,
and rumor has it that the entities responsible were in fact discovered
by the FBI, and then quietly squelched by Apple management.  NuPrometheus
was never publicly charged with a crime, or prosecuted, or jailed.
But there were no further illicit releases of Macintosh internal software.
Eventually the painful issue of NuPrometheus was allowed to fade.

In the meantime, however, a large number of puzzled bystanders
found themselves entertaining surprise guests from the FBI.

One of these people was John Perry Barlow.  Barlow is a most unusual man,
difficult to describe in conventional terms.  He is perhaps best known as
a songwriter for the Grateful Dead, for he composed lyrics for
"Hell in a Bucket," "Picasso Moon," "Mexicali Blues," "I Need a Miracle,"
and many more; he has been writing for the band since 1970.

Before we tackle the vexing question as to why a rock lyricist
should be interviewed by the FBI in a computer-crime case,
it might be well to say a word or two about the Grateful Dead.
The Grateful Dead are perhaps the most successful and long-lasting
of the numerous cultural emanations from the Haight-Ashbury district
of San Francisco, in the glory days of Movement politics and
lysergic transcendance.  The Grateful Dead are a nexus, a veritable
whirlwind, of  applique decals, psychedelic vans, tie-dyed T-shirts,
earth-color denim, frenzied dancing and open and unashamed drug use.
The symbols, and the realities, of Californian freak power surround
the Grateful Dead like knotted macrame.

The Grateful Dead and their thousands of Deadhead devotees
are radical Bohemians.  This much is widely understood.
Exactly what this implies in the 1990s is rather more problematic.

The Grateful Dead are among the world's most popular
and wealthy entertainers:  number 20, according to Forbes magazine,
right between M.C. Hammer and Sean Connery.  In 1990, this jeans-clad
group of purported raffish outcasts earned seventeen million dollars.
They have been earning sums much along this line for quite some time now.

And while the Dead are not investment bankers or three-piece-suit
tax specialists--they are, in point of fact, hippie musicians--
this money has not been squandered in senseless Bohemian excess.
The Dead have been quietly active for many years, funding various
worthy activities in their  extensive and widespread cultural community.

The Grateful Dead are not conventional players in the American
power establishment.  They nevertheless are something of a force
to be reckoned with.  They have a lot of money and a lot of friends
in many places, both likely and unlikely.

The Dead may be known for back-to-the-earth environmentalist rhetoric,
but this hardly makes them anti-technological Luddites.  On the contrary,
like most rock musicians, the Grateful Dead have spent their entire adult
lives in the company of complex electronic equipment.  They have funds to burn
on any sophisticated tool and toy that might happen to catch their fancy.
And their fancy is quite extensive.

The Deadhead community boasts any number of recording engineers,
lighting experts, rock video mavens, electronic technicians
of all descriptions.  And the drift goes both ways.  Steve Wozniak,
Apple's co-founder, used to throw rock festivals.  Silicon Valley rocks out.

These are the 1990s, not the 1960s.  Today, for a surprising number of people
all over America, the supposed dividing line between Bohemian and technician
simply no longer exists.  People of this sort may have a set of windchimes
and a dog with a knotted kerchief 'round its neck, but they're also quite
likely to own a multimegabyte Macintosh running MIDI synthesizer software
and trippy fractal simulations.  These days, even Timothy Leary himself,
prophet of LSD, does virtual-reality computer-graphics demos in
his lecture tours.

John Perry Barlow is not a member of the Grateful Dead.  He is, however,
a ranking Deadhead.

Barlow describes himself as a "techno-crank."  A vague term like
"social activist" might not be far from the mark, either.
But Barlow might be better described as a "poet"--if one keeps in mind
Percy Shelley's archaic definition of poets as "unacknowledged legislators
of the world."

Barlow once made a stab at acknowledged legislator status.  In 1987,
he narrowly missed the Republican nomination for a seat in the
Wyoming State Senate.  Barlow is a Wyoming native, the third-generation
scion of a well-to-do cattle-ranching family.  He is in his early forties,
married and the father of three daughters.

Barlow is not much troubled by other people's narrow notions of consistency.
In the late 1980s, this Republican rock lyricist cattle rancher sold his ranch
and became a computer telecommunications devotee.

The free-spirited Barlow made this transition with ease.  He genuinely
enjoyed computers.  With a beep of his modem, he leapt from small-town
Pinedale, Wyoming, into electronic contact with a large and lively crowd
of bright, inventive, technological sophisticates from all over the world.
Barlow found the social milieu of computing attractive: its fast-lane pace,
its blue-sky rhetoric, its open-endedness.  Barlow began dabbling in
computer journalism, with marked success, as he was a quick study,
and both shrewd and eloquent.  He frequently travelled to San Francisco
to network with Deadhead friends.  There Barlow made extensive contacts
throughout the Californian computer community, including friendships
among the wilder spirits at Apple.

In May 1990, Barlow received a visit from a local Wyoming agent of the FBI.
The NuPrometheus case had reached Wyoming.

Barlow was troubled to find himself under investigation in an
area of his interests once quite free of federal attention.
He had to struggle to explain the very nature of computer-crime
to a headscratching local FBI man who specialized in cattle-rustling.
Barlow, chatting helpfully and demonstrating the wonders of his modem
to the puzzled fed, was alarmed to find all "hackers" generally under
FBI suspicion as an evil influence in the electronic community.
The FBI, in pursuit of a hacker called "NuPrometheus," were tracing
attendees of a suspect group called the Hackers Conference.

The Hackers Conference, which had been started in 1984, was a
yearly Californian meeting of digital pioneers and enthusiasts.
The hackers of the Hackers Conference had little if anything to do
with the hackers of the digital underground.  On the contrary,
the hackers of this conference were mostly well-to-do Californian
high-tech CEOs, consultants, journalists and entrepreneurs.
(This group of hackers were the exact sort of "hackers"
most likely to react with militant fury at any criminal
degradation of the term "hacker.")

Barlow, though he was not arrested or accused of a crime,
and though his computer had certainly not gone out the door,
was very troubled by this anomaly.  He carried the word to the Well.

Like the Hackers Conference, "the Well" was an emanation of the
Point Foundation.  Point Foundation, the inspiration of a wealthy
Californian 60s radical named Stewart Brand, was to be a major
launch-pad of the civil libertarian effort.

Point Foundation's cultural efforts, like those of their fellow Bay Area
Californians the Grateful Dead, were multifaceted and multitudinous.
Rigid ideological consistency had never been a strong suit of the
Whole Earth Catalog.  This Point publication had enjoyed a strong
vogue during the late 60s and early 70s, when it offered hundreds
of practical (and not so practical) tips on communitarian living,
environmentalism, and getting back-to-the-land.  The Whole Earth Catalog,
and its sequels, sold two and half million copies and won a
National Book Award.

With the slow collapse of American radical dissent, the Whole Earth Catalog
had slipped to a more modest corner of the cultural radar; but in its
magazine incarnation, CoEvolution Quarterly, the Point Foundation
continued to offer a magpie potpourri of "access to tools and ideas."

CoEvolution Quarterly, which started in 1974, was never a widely
popular magazine.  Despite periodic outbreaks of millenarian fervor,
CoEvolution Quarterly failed to revolutionize Western civilization
and replace leaden centuries of history with bright new Californian paradigms.
Instead, this propaganda arm of Point Foundation cakewalked a fine line between
impressive brilliance and New Age flakiness.  CoEvolution Quarterly carried
no advertising, cost a lot, and came out on cheap newsprint with modest
black-and-white graphics.  It was poorly distributed, and spread mostly
by subscription and word of mouth.

It could not seem to grow beyond 30,000 subscribers.
And yet--it never seemed to shrink much, either.
Year in, year out, decade in, decade out, some strange
demographic minority accreted to support the magazine.
The enthusiastic readership did not seem to have much
in the way of coherent politics or  ideals.  It was sometimes
hard to understand what held them together (if the often bitter
debate in the letter-columns could be described as "togetherness").

But if the magazine did not flourish, it was resilient; it got by.
Then, in 1984, the birth-year of the Macintosh computer,
CoEvolution Quarterly suddenly hit the rapids.  Point Foundation
had discovered the computer revolution.  Out came the Whole Earth
Software Catalog of 1984, arousing headscratching doubts among
the tie-dyed faithful, and rabid enthusiasm among the nascent
"cyberpunk" milieu, present company included.  Point Foundation
started its yearly Hackers Conference, and began to take an
extensive interest in the strange new possibilities of
digital counterculture.  CoEvolution Quarterlyfolded its teepee,
replaced by Whole Earth Software Review and eventually by Whole Earth
Review (the magazine's present incarnation, currently under
the editorship of virtual-reality maven Howard Rheingold).

1985 saw the birth of the "WELL"--the "Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link."
The Well was Point Foundation's bulletin board system.

As boards went, the Well was an anomaly from the beginning,
and remained one.  It was local to San Francisco.
It was huge, with multiple phonelines and enormous files
of commentary.  Its complex UNIX-based software might be
most charitably described as "user-opaque."  It was run on
a mainframe out of the rambling offices of a non-profit
cultural foundation in Sausalito.  And it was crammed with
fans of the Grateful Dead.

Though the Well was peopled by chattering hipsters of the Bay Area
counterculture, it was by no means a "digital underground" board.
Teenagers were fairly scarce; most Well users (known as "Wellbeings")
were thirty- and forty-something Baby Boomers.  They tended to work
in the information industry: hardware, software, telecommunications,
media, entertainment.  Librarians, academics, and journalists were
especially common on the Well, attracted by Point Foundation's
open-handed distribution of "tools and ideas."

There were no anarchy files on the Well, scarcely a
dropped hint about access codes or credit-card theft.
No one used handles.  Vicious "flame-wars" were held to
a comparatively civilized rumble.  Debates were sometimes sharp,
but no Wellbeing ever claimed that a rival had disconnected his phone,
trashed his house, or posted his credit card numbers.

The Well grew slowly as the 1980s advanced.  It charged a modest sum
for access and storage, and lost money for years--but not enough to hamper
the Point Foundation, which was nonprofit anyway.  By 1990, the Well
had about five thousand users.  These users wandered about a gigantic
cyberspace smorgasbord of "Conferences", each conference itself consisting
of a welter of "topics," each topic containing dozens, sometimes hundreds
of comments, in a tumbling, multiperson debate that could last for months
or years on end.


In 1991, the Well's list of conferences looked like this:


CONFERENCES ON THE WELL

WELL "Screenzine" Digest  (g zine)

Best of the WELL - vintage material - (g best)

Index listing of new topics in all conferences - (g newtops)

Business - Education
----------------------

Apple Library Users Group(g alug)     Agriculture       (g agri)
Brainstorming            (g brain)    Classifieds       (g cla)
Computer Journalism      (g cj)       Consultants       (g consult)
Consumers                (g cons)     Design            (g design)
Desktop Publishing       (g desk)     Disability        (g disability)
Education                (g ed)       Energy            (g energy91)
Entrepreneurs            (g entre)    Homeowners        (g home)
Indexing                 (g indexing) Investments       (g invest)
Kids91                   (g kids)     Legal             (g legal)
One Person Business      (g one)
Periodical/newsletter    (g per)
Telecomm Law             (g tcl)      The Future        (g fut)
Translators              (g trans)    Travel            (g tra)
Work                     (g work)

Electronic Frontier Foundation    (g eff)
Computers, Freedom & Privacy      (g cfp)
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility  (g cpsr)

Social - Political - Humanities
---------------------------------

Aging                  (g gray)        AIDS              (g aids)
Amnesty International  (g amnesty)     Archives          (g arc)
Berkeley               (g berk)        Buddhist          (g wonderland)
Christian              (g cross)       Couples           (g couples)
Current Events         (g curr)        Dreams            (g dream)
Drugs                  (g dru)         East Coast        (g east)
Emotional Health@@@@   (g private)     Erotica           (g eros)
Environment            (g env)         Firearms          (g firearms)
First Amendment        (g first)       Fringes of Reason (g fringes)
Gay                    (g gay)         Gay (Private)#    (g gaypriv)
Geography              (g geo)         German            (g german)
Gulf War               (g gulf)        Hawaii            (g aloha)
Health                 (g heal)        History           (g hist)
Holistic               (g holi)        Interview         (g inter)
Italian                (g ital)        Jewish            (g jew)
Liberty                (g liberty)     Mind              (g mind)
Miscellaneous          (g misc)        Men on the WELL@@ (g mow)
Network Integration    (g origin)      Nonprofits        (g non)
North Bay              (g north)       Northwest         (g nw)
Pacific Rim            (g pacrim)      Parenting         (g par)
Peace                  (g pea)         Peninsula         (g pen)
Poetry                 (g poetry)      Philosophy        (g phi)
Politics               (g pol)         Psychology        (g psy)
Psychotherapy          (g therapy)     Recovery##        (g recovery)
San Francisco          (g sanfran)     Scams             (g scam)
Sexuality              (g sex)         Singles           (g singles)
Southern               (g south)       Spanish           (g spanish)
Spirituality           (g spirit)      Tibet             (g tibet)
Transportation         (g transport)   True Confessions  (g tru)
Unclear                (g unclear)     WELL Writer's Workshop@@@(g www)
Whole Earth            (g we)          Women on the WELL@(g wow)
Words                  (g words)       Writers           (g wri)

@@@@Private Conference - mail wooly for entry
@@@Private conference - mail sonia for entry
@@Private conference - mail flash for entry
@ Private conference - mail reva for entry
#  Private Conference - mail hudu for entry
## Private Conference - mail dhawk for entry

Arts - Recreation - Entertainment
-----------------------------------
ArtCom Electronic Net  (g acen)
Audio-Videophilia      (g aud)
Bicycles               (g bike)       Bay Area Tonight@@(g bat)
Boating                (g wet)        Books             (g books)
CD's                   (g cd)         Comics            (g comics)
Cooking                (g cook)       Flying            (g flying)
Fun                    (g fun)        Games             (g games)
Gardening              (g gard)       Kids              (g kids)
Nightowls@             (g owl)        Jokes             (g jokes)
MIDI                   (g midi)       Movies            (g movies)
Motorcycling           (g ride)       Motoring          (g car)
Music                  (g mus)        On Stage          (g onstage)
Pets                   (g pets)       Radio             (g rad)
Restaurant             (g rest)       Science Fiction   (g sf)
Sports                 (g spo)        Star Trek         (g trek)
Television             (g tv)         Theater           (g theater)
Weird                  (g weird)      Zines/Factsheet Five(g f5)
@Open from midnight to 6am
@@Updated daily

Grateful Dead
-------------
Grateful Dead          (g gd)          Deadplan@         (g dp)
Deadlit                (g deadlit)     Feedback          (g feedback)
GD Hour                (g gdh)         Tapes             (g tapes)
Tickets                (g tix)         Tours             (g tours)

@Private conference - mail tnf for entry

Computers
-----------
AI/Forth/Realtime      (g realtime)  Amiga             (g amiga)
Apple                  (g app)       Computer Books    (g cbook)
Art & Graphics         (g gra)       Hacking           (g hack)
HyperCard              (g hype)      IBM PC            (g ibm)
LANs                   (g lan)       Laptop            (g lap)
Macintosh              (g mac)       Mactech           (g mactech)
Microtimes             (g microx)    Muchomedia        (g mucho)
NeXt                   (g next)      OS/2              (g os2)
Printers               (g print)     Programmer's Net  (g net)
Siggraph               (g siggraph)  Software Design   (g sdc)
Software/Programming   (g software)
Software Support       (g ssc)
Unix                   (g unix)      Windows           (g windows)
Word Processing        (g word)

Technical - Communications
----------------------------
Bioinfo                (g bioinfo)   Info              (g boing)
Media                  (g media)     NAPLPS            (g naplps)
Netweaver              (g netweaver) Networld (g networld)
Packet Radio           (g packet)    Photography       (g pho)
Radio                  (g rad)       Science           (g science)
Technical Writers      (g tec)       Telecommunications(g tele)
Usenet                 (g usenet)    Video             (g vid)
Virtual Reality        (g vr)

The WELL Itself
---------------
Deeper                 (g deeper)    Entry             (g ent)
General                (g gentech)   Help              (g help)
Hosts                  (g hosts)     Policy            (g policy)
System News            (g news)      Test              (g test)

The list itself is dazzling, bringing to the untutored eye
a dizzying impression of a bizarre milieu of mountain-climbing
Hawaiian holistic photographers trading true-life confessions
with bisexual word-processing Tibetans.

But this confusion is more apparent than real.  Each of these conferences
was a little cyberspace world in itself, comprising dozens and perhaps
hundreds of sub-topics.  Each conference was commonly frequented by
a fairly small, fairly like-minded community of perhaps a few dozen people.
It was humanly impossible to encompass the entire Well (especially since
access to the Well's mainframe computer was billed by the hour).
Most long-time users contented themselves with a few favorite
topical neighborhoods, with the occasional foray elsewhere
for a taste of exotica.  But especially important news items,
and hot topical debates, could catch the attention of the entire
Well community.

Like any community, the Well had its celebrities, and John Perry Barlow,
the silver-tongued and silver-modemed lyricist of the Grateful Dead,
ranked prominently among them.  It was here on the Well that Barlow
posted his true-life tale of computer-crime encounter with the FBI.

The story, as might be expected, created a great stir.  The Well was
already primed for hacker controversy.  In December 1989, Harper's magazine
had hosted a debate on the Well about the ethics of illicit computer intrusion.
While over forty various computer-mavens took part, Barlow proved a star
in the debate.  So did "Acid Phreak" and "Phiber Optik," a pair of young
New York hacker-phreaks whose skills at telco switching-station intrusion
were matched only by their apparently limitless hunger for fame.
The advent of these two boldly swaggering outlaws in the precincts
of the Well created a sensation akin to that of Black Panthers
at a cocktail party for the radically chic.

Phiber Optik in particular was to seize the day in 1990.
A devotee of the 2600 circle and stalwart of the New York
hackers' group "Masters of Deception," Phiber Optik was
a splendid exemplar of the computer intruder as committed dissident.
The eighteen-year-old Optik, a high-school dropout and part-time
computer repairman, was young, smart, and ruthlessly obsessive,
a sharp-dressing, sharp-talking digital dude who was utterly
and airily contemptuous of anyone's rules but his own.
By late 1991, Phiber Optik had appeared in Harper's,
Esquire, The New York Times, in countless public debates
and conventions, even on a television show hosted by Geraldo Rivera.

Treated with gingerly respect by Barlow and other Well mavens,
Phiber Optik swiftly became a Well celebrity.  Strangely, despite
his thorny attitude and utter single-mindedness, Phiber Optik seemed
to arouse strong protective instincts in most of the people who met him.
He was great copy for journalists, always fearlessly ready to swagger,
and, better yet, to actually DEMONSTRATE some off-the-wall digital stunt.
He was a born media darling.

Even cops seemed to recognize that there was something peculiarly unworldly
and uncriminal about this particular troublemaker.  He was so bold,
so flagrant, so young, and so obviously doomed, that even those
who strongly disapproved of his actions grew anxious for his welfare,
and began to flutter about him as if he were an endangered seal pup.

In January 24, 1990 (nine days after the Martin Luther King Day Crash),
Phiber Optik, Acid Phreak, and a third NYC scofflaw named Scorpion were
raided by the Secret Service.  Their computers went out the door,
along with the usual blizzard of papers, notebooks, compact disks,
answering machines, Sony Walkmans, etc.  Both Acid Phreak and
Phiber Optik were accused of having caused the Crash.

The mills of justice ground slowly.  The case eventually fell into
the hands of the New York State Police.  Phiber had lost his machinery
in the raid, but there were no charges filed against him for over a year.
His predicament was extensively publicized on the Well, where it caused
much resentment for police tactics.  It's one thing to merely hear about
a hacker raided or busted; it's another to see the police attacking someone
you've come to know personally, and who has explained his motives at length.
Through the Harper's debate on the Well, it had become clear to the
Wellbeings that Phiber Optik was not in fact going to "hurt anything."
In their own salad days, many Wellbeings had tasted tear-gas in pitched
street-battles with police.  They were inclined to indulgence for
acts of civil disobedience. 

Wellbeings were also startled to learn of the draconian thoroughness
of a typical hacker search-and-seizure.  It took no great stretch of
imagination for them to envision themselves suffering much the same treatment.

As early as January 1990, sentiment on the Well had already begun to sour,
and people had begun to grumble that "hackers" were getting a raw deal
from the ham-handed powers-that-be.  The resultant issue of Harper's
magazine posed the question as to whether computer-intrusion was a "crime"
at all.  As Barlow put it later:  "I've begun to wonder if we wouldn't
also regard spelunkers as desperate criminals if AT&T owned all the caves."

In February 1991, more than a year after the raid on his home,
Phiber Optik was finally arrested, and was charged with first-degree
Computer Tampering and Computer Trespass, New York state offenses.
He was also charged with a theft-of-service misdemeanor, involving a complex
free-call scam to a 900 number.  Phiber Optik pled guilty to the misdemeanor
charge, and was sentenced to  35 hours of community service.

This passing harassment from the unfathomable world of straight people
seemed to bother Optik himself little if at all.  Deprived of his computer
by the January search-and-seizure, he simply bought himself a portable
computer so the cops could no longer monitor the phone where he lived
with his Mom, and he went right on with his depredations, sometimes on
live radio or in front of television cameras.

The crackdown raid may have done little to dissuade Phiber Optik,
but its galling affect on the Wellbeings was profound.  As 1990 rolled on,
the slings and arrows mounted:  the Knight Lightning raid,
the Steve Jackson raid, the nation-spanning Operation Sundevil.
The rhetoric of law enforcement made it clear that there was,
in fact, a concerted crackdown on hackers in progress.

The hackers of the Hackers Conference, the Wellbeings, and their ilk,
did not really mind the occasional public misapprehension of "hacking;"
if anything, this membrane of differentiation from straight society
made the "computer community" feel different, smarter, better.
They had never before been confronted, however, by a concerted
vilification campaign.

Barlow's central role in the counter-struggle was one of the major
anomalies of 1990.  Journalists investigating the controversy
often stumbled over the truth about Barlow, but they commonly
dusted themselves off and hurried on as if nothing had happened.
It was as if it were TOO MUCH TO BELIEVE that a 1960s freak
from the Grateful Dead had taken on a federal law enforcement operation
head-to-head and ACTUALLY SEEMED TO BE WINNING!

Barlow had no easily detectable power-base for a political struggle
of this kind.  He had no formal legal or technical credentials.
Barlow was, however, a computer networker of truly stellar brilliance.
He had a poet's gift of concise, colorful phrasing.  He also had a
journalist's shrewdness, an off-the-wall, self-deprecating wit,
and a phenomenal wealth of simple personal charm.

The kind of influence Barlow possessed is fairly common currency
in literary, artistic, or musical circles.  A gifted critic can
wield great artistic influence simply through defining
the temper of the times, by coining the catch-phrases
and the terms of debate that become the common currency of the period.
(And as it happened, Barlow WAS a part-time art critic,
with a special fondness for the Western art of Frederic Remington.)

Barlow was the first commentator to adopt William Gibson's
striking science-fictional term "cyberspace" as a synonym
for the present-day nexus of computer and telecommunications networks.
Barlow was insistent that cyberspace should be regarded as
a qualitatively new world, a "frontier."  According to Barlow,
the world of electronic communications, now made visible through
the computer screen, could no longer be usefully regarded
as just a tangle of high-tech wiring.  Instead, it had become
a PLACE, cyberspace, which demanded a new set of metaphors,
a new set of rules and behaviors.  The term, as Barlow employed it,
struck a useful chord, and this concept of cyberspace was picked up
by Time, Scientific American, computer police, hackers, and even
Constitutional scholars.  "Cyberspace" now seems likely to become
a permanent fixture of the language.

Barlow was very striking in person: a tall, craggy-faced, bearded,
deep-voiced Wyomingan in a dashing Western ensemble of jeans, jacket,
cowboy boots, a knotted throat-kerchief and an ever-present Grateful Dead
cloisonne lapel pin.

Armed with a modem, however, Barlow was truly in his element.
Formal hierarchies were not Barlow's strong suit; he rarely missed
a chance to belittle the "large organizations and their drones,"
with their uptight, institutional mindset.  Barlow was very much
of the free-spirit persuasion, deeply unimpressed by brass-hats
and jacks-in-office.  But when it came to the digital grapevine,
Barlow was a cyberspace ad-hocrat par excellence.

There was not a mighty army of Barlows.  There was only one Barlow,
and he was a fairly anomolous individual.  However, the situation only
seemed to REQUIRE a single Barlow.  In fact, after 1990, many people
must have concluded that a single Barlow was far more than
they'd ever bargained for.

Barlow's querulous mini-essay about his encounter with the FBI
struck a strong chord on the Well.  A number of other free spirits
on the fringes of Apple Computing had come under suspicion,
and they liked it not one whit better than he did.

One of these was Mitchell Kapor, the co-inventor of the spreadsheet
program "Lotus 1-2-3" and the founder of Lotus Development Corporation.
Kapor had written-off the passing indignity of being fingerprinted
down at his own local Boston FBI headquarters, but Barlow's post
made the full national scope of the FBI's dragnet clear to Kapor.
The issue now had Kapor's full attention.  As the Secret Service
swung into anti-hacker operation nationwide in 1990, Kapor watched
every move with deep skepticism and growing alarm.

As it happened, Kapor had already met Barlow, who had interviewed Kapor
for a California computer journal.  Like most people who met Barlow,
Kapor had been very taken with him.  Now Kapor took it upon himself
to drop in on Barlow for a heart-to-heart talk about the situation.

Kapor was a regular on the Well.  Kapor had been a devotee of the
Whole Earth Catalogsince the beginning, and treasured a complete run
of the magazine.  And Kapor not only had a modem, but a private jet.
In pursuit of the scattered high-tech investments of Kapor Enterprises Inc.,
his personal, multi-million dollar holding company, Kapor commonly crossed
state lines with about as much thought as one might give to faxing a letter.

The Kapor-Barlow council of June 1990, in Pinedale, Wyoming, was the start
of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  Barlow swiftly wrote a manifesto,
"Crime and Puzzlement," which announced his, and Kapor's, intention
to form a political organization to "raise and disburse funds for education,
lobbying, and litigation in the areas relating to digital speech and the
extension of the Constitution into Cyberspace."

Furthermore, proclaimed the manifesto, the foundation would
"fund, conduct, and support legal efforts to demonstrate
that the Secret Service has exercised prior restraint on publications,
limited free speech, conducted improper seizure of equipment and data,
used undue force, and generally conducted itself in a fashion which
is arbitrary, oppressive, and unconstitutional."

"Crime and Puzzlement" was distributed far and wide through computer
networking channels, and also printed in the Whole Earth Review.
The sudden declaration of a coherent, politicized counter-strike
from the ranks of hackerdom electrified the community.  Steve Wozniak
(perhaps a bit stung by the  NuPrometheus scandal) swiftly offered
to match any funds Kapor offered the Foundation.

John Gilmore, one of the pioneers of Sun Microsystems, immediately offered
his own extensive financial and personal support.  Gilmore, an ardent
libertarian, was to prove an eloquent advocate of electronic privacy issues,
especially freedom from governmental and corporate computer-assisted
surveillance of private citizens.

A second meeting in San Francisco rounded up further allies:
Stewart Brand of the Point Foundation, virtual-reality pioneers
Jaron Lanier and Chuck Blanchard, network entrepreneur and venture
capitalist Nat Goldhaber.  At this dinner meeting, the activists settled on
a formal title: the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Incorporated.
Kapor became its president. A new EFF Conference was opened on
the Point Foundation's Well, and the Well was declared
"the home of the Electronic Frontier Foundation."

Press coverage was immediate and intense.  Like their
nineteenth-century spiritual ancestors, Alexander Graham Bell
and Thomas Watson, the high-tech computer entrepreneurs
of the 1970s and 1980s--people such as Wozniak, Jobs, Kapor,
Gates, and H. Ross Perot, who had raised themselves by their bootstraps
to dominate a glittering new industry--had always made very good copy.

But while the Wellbeings rejoiced, the press in general seemed
nonplussed by the self-declared "civilizers of cyberspace."
EFF's insistence that the war against "hackers" involved grave
Constitutional civil liberties issues seemed somewhat farfetched,
especially since none of EFF's organizers were lawyers
or established politicians.  The business press in particular
found it easier to seize on the apparent core of the story--
that high-tech entrepreneur Mitchell Kapor had established
a "defense fund for hackers."  Was EFF a genuinely important
political development--or merely a clique of wealthy eccentrics,
dabbling in matters better left to the proper authorities?
The jury was still out.

But the stage was now set for open confrontation.
And the first and the most critical battle was the
hacker show-trial of "Knight Lightning."